Biomimetic Proteoglycans

Biomimetic Proteoglycans

Lower back pain has been estimated to be the fifth most common reason for all physician visits and is the leading musculoskeletal disease confronting out healthcare system. Lower back pain can be attributed to the process of intervertebral disc (IVD) degeneration where the proteoglycan content of the nucleus pulpous decreases linearly with degeneration. These proteoglycans are essential for the hydration and structural integrity of soft and connective tissue. Proteoglycans such as aggrecan work to resist mechanical forces and provide hydrostatic tension to the outer region of the intervertebral disc. As the soft and connective tissues degenerate, enzymatic degradation of proteoglycans outpaces cellular synthesis which leads to hydration, mechanical,  and nutritional deficits to tissue function. Due to the cost prohibitive nature of proteoglycan restoration with natural molecules, we are currently working to synthesize cytocompatible biomimetic proteoglycans (BPGs) to mimic the size and three-dimensional bottle brush  architecture of their natural counterparts with an ultimate goal of creating potential BPGs for the purpose of molecular engineering of degenerated tissue.